In November 2019, Lewis County PUD received a $50,000 grant from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to study the needs and feasibility of expanding broadband access to areas within the PUD service area that currently do not have broadband access. The objective is to develop a community telecommunications network plan that creates opportunities for bringing low-cost, high-capacity, reliable broadband services to homes and businesses within the PUD’s service area and to support the power services the PUD provides. 

The term “broadband” can be used in a variety of ways and most often represents a communication line or medium that has greater bandwidth than a typical data or phone line. Coaxial cable used with a television is an example of a copper broadband medium. Lewis County PUD uses fiber as a broadband medium to transport information from one point to another in the form of light (fiber optics). Fiber is the fastest, most reliable broadband medium available. Did you know that the entire contents of the Library of Congress can be transmitted over one fiber across the country in 4 seconds?

Fiber Optic Cable
Fiber Optic Cable.

 

Light is easily transmitted through fibers or thin rods of glass. The use of fiber in telecommunications is growing because it is durable, reliable, and provides more bandwidth (information-carrying capacity) than traditional metallic-based cable. The use of fiber optics in telecommunications ranges from global networks to local telephone exchanges to Internet subscribers’ homes. All involve the transmission of voice, data, or video over distances from less than a mile to hundreds of miles.

Reliable high-speed digital infrastructure is often one component in economic growth and diversification within a community. It draws and sustains college students, clean & high-tech business, medical providers, and others who want to live rural yet still be connected to the world. Businesses can use broadband to expand their customer base, and save money through smart technology and energy management.

Everyone. Large businesses need high-speed, point-to-point network connections for daily commercial traffic (payroll, bills of lading, purchase orders, automated library systems, medical information) and Internet access. Fiber optics advance health care providers’ ability to share diagnostic and non-diagnostic images and confidential information with other physicians across the town, state, and nation. For instance, hospitals need fast, reliable, secure digital network connectivity to other medical providers. This allows the secure confidential transmission of large amounts of information such as x-rays, MRI, CT scans, medical and insurance records, which translates to better health care services. Schools need interconnection to provide educational tools, research sharing, and distance learning opportunities. Agri-businesses can use broadband to monitor field conditions, water and electric usage and access market information. Increasingly, students need access to high-speed Internet to study from home, and adults need to have the flexibility to work remotely from their office.

No. The PUD’s cost-based electric rates are derived primarily from the cost of wholesale power, operation and maintenance of the electrical system.

Lewis County PUD’s fiber optic network is a wholesale asset, which performs two functions: supports the operation of the PUD’s electric distribution services and lease out available fiber to telecommunication businesses who, in turn, sell Internet, telephone, and television services to residents and businesses.

While the PUD’s broadband serves a portion of our service area, many areas lack access to broadband. The map below shows Lewis County PUD’s current broadband network.

Fiber Broadband Map
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Under current Washington State law, public utility districts are not authorized to provide telecommunications services directly to end users. For more information on this, please read RCW 54.16.330.